Could you be seriously damaging your website’s health?
In late May 2013 Google launched its latest algorithmic change called Penguin 2.0 with quite devastating effects for many. The Penguin 2.0 update caused websites that had previously ranked highly in search results started to slip down the results page and in some cases disappear altogether.
The process began in February 2011 when Google started a modifying it’s algorithm to give higher search results for websites with better quality content. Called the Panda Update, it began a series of changes designed to devalue sites containing spam specifically designed for higher search results. The process continued through to the current changes which look at penalizing websites that have links from websites that contain spammy content or from dubious sources.
Now the dust has begun to settle we can examine why and some of the techniques you can use to help you recover lost rankings and make sure you don’t suffer from any future changes.
Google has never kept it secret its desire to improve the quality of content on the web. Although in saying that it has generally turned a blind eye, in the past it has been easy for websites to bypass Google’s rules and obtain decent rankings by adopting a number of long widely used dubious techniques. Generally the only way to drop in search rankings was if you were reported to Google, now however things have changed.
The aim of Penguin was to continue improving content on your website, but also on sites that give authority to your website by linking to you. The latter probably being the most problematic for many website owners, as they are generally out of the control of the webmaster once the link has been placed. (i.e. it is far easier to add links than remove links from third party sites)
Many of these damaging links will have been placed by your self or the company responsible for your SEO link building strategy.
Penguin has Highlighted Three Main Changes for Writing Web Content
1. The Focus has shifted away from Keywords
This actually happened a long time ago, but Google is only now enforcing it. The obsession in SEO circles with keyword density, proximity and subject relevance to keep the search engines happy with the end reader being an afterthought is still unfortunately common place.
Churning out endless content to provide a medium for you to host your keywords (both on and off site) for Search Engine Optimisation is no longer an option. Google (but more importantly your much maligned reader) requires an intelligent read containing informative and relevant content.
Main things to remember:
- Who are you writing for? Simple – natural sounding content written for the reader.
- Do not repeat keyword phrases many times over, forget keyword density as a concept, it will cause more harm than good.
- There is no definitive length for a piece of text on a web page, you only need enough to get your message across, readers tend to scan web pages.
- Strip out surplus text and break content into small bite size blocks.
- Do not repeat the same keyword phrase in HTML title tags, web page address (URI) and H1 & H2 tags on individual pages.
2. Anchor Text
Main things to remember:
- Google will penalize you for using the same keywords repeatedly as anchor text. The focus is now on variety.
- The text within the link & surrounding content must be spelt correctly as well as grammatically & contextually correct.
- Use of semantically correct up to date content that makes sense is now essential – no more random content generators or cheap foreign copy writers.
Semantically correct content means using “soft keywords” these are keywords associated with the niche vocabulary of the subject you are writing about and would expect to find mentioned when reading up on the subject . It must be born in mind new buzz words come into vogue all the time, so any old content is no longer always good enough.
3. Inbound Links or sometimes referred to as “Backlinks”
Google’s SEO expert, Matt Cutts explained the impact of the recent update for online businesses.
“The latest Penguin update works as a means to penalize the illegal search engine optimization strategies used by some sites, and to reward those websites that provide quality, informative content to web users. The main purpose of Google Penguin’s update was to reduce link spamming and hacking. Now webmasters have the necessary instruments to fix hacked web pages.”
Main things to remember:
- Websites that adopt an SEO strategy of placing inbound links to their web sites that use keyword rich text in the anchor text from various sources must do all that they possibly can do to ensure quality of their location, grammar and spelling. This reflects the importance Google attaches to the overall all quality of content on the internet.
- When placing inbound links ensure that the 3rd party sites are free from malware.
- Google now monitors more closely where you get inbound links and the speed at which you acquire them so called“Link Velocity”. Search Engine Watch has suggested that Google ignores any more than the addition of 75 daily links
Recovering from Penguin 2.0
This is not a comprehensive guide to the “New SEO World” we live in, it only represents three significant changes. Penguin 2.0 brings other challenges for content writers & online brand builders which we will cover in later articles.